I’ve been working with some leaders recently who are persevering through perennial and seemingly unrelenting loss. Their hearts are asking, “Is the struggle God’s calling for my life? Is my job just to persevere?” It’s so tough.
Yet I don’t think that the struggle is the sum total of God’s calling for any life. Yes, God does call His people into incredible places of suffering but I also expect God to be good in truth and love. There is a point to ministry whether marked by success or disappointment. John the Baptist’s life illustrates this for me. The ministry of being “the voice crying in the wilderness,” was not without the struggles of isolation, hostility and even profound disappointment bordering on disbelief. In Matthew 11, John the Baptist is imprisoned and questioning the whole point of his life’s ministry. He asks: “Are You the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?” A bold and heartbreaking question from John. Can you imagine what pain and doubt he must have been experiencing? But the beautiful thing is he literally took this doubt and disappointment to Jesus.
Jesus did not respond by telling John to “just hang on.” He didn’t diminish John’s suffering and doubt. Instead he pointed to His goodness in the ministry of truth and love. “And Jesus answered them, ‘Go tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have the good news preached to them.’” (Matthew 11:4-5)
When the point of ministry seems to be endless struggle, we are in danger of losing God’s plot. Like John, we may need to take it to Jesus and get a glimpse of the bigger picture.
- How are you disappointed with God?
- Are you willing to let God show you places where ministry is flourishing, even if it’s not yours personally?